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The Disruptor

Meena Ganesh's latest home medical care start-up is going places.

MEENA GANESH Co-founder & CEO, Portea Medical (Photo: Nilotpal Baruah) MEENA GANESH Co-founder & CEO, Portea Medical (Photo: Nilotpal Baruah)

May this year, Meena Ganesh co-authored a book, 'The Manual for Indian Start-ups', a guide to starting a business. Her short profile, published in the book, did a reasonable job of introducing her: "Founded and led, co-promoted, some of India's most disruptive start-ups, including Portea Medical, CustomerAsset, Tutor Vista, BigBasket, Bluestone, FreshMenu, AcadGild, Avagmah, among others."

What it did not say was that Meena, and her investor husband K. Ganesh, are masters of scaling up businesses as well as successfully exiting them. Meena Ganesh sold her first start-up, BPO company CustomerAsset, to ICICI. She also co-promoted TutorVista, which was acquired by global education services company Pearson for $213 million in one of the largest deals in the Indian education sector. As the CEO of Portea Medical, her latest start-up, she has again scaled up an idea few thought could work - medical services at home, everything from physiotherapy and nursing to elder and new born care. The idea came around 2013 when Ganesh realised there was a "whitespace" outside of hospital care."I had experienced this with my parents' health. In the hospital, they were well cared for, but once you brought them home, you had to run from pillar to post to get anything," she says.

"That made me think. Chronic diseases in India are on a rise and that requires management. So does post-operative care." She began by "rolling in" a small unfunded start-up, founded by two Americans.Portea, says Ganesh, has grown revenues nearly 150 per cent in the last one year. It is clocking 120,000 customer visits a month and employs 5,000 people, including physiotherapists, doctors, nurses and technicians. The company's services are available in 18 Indian cities. It has raised nearly $47 million venture capital from two rounds.Ganesh, over the last one year, has acquired three companies and integrated them into Portea, adding new capabilities. For instance, in 2016, Portea acquired Health Mantra, which makes renting (and buying) of medical equipment easy.

"We realised patients needed a lot of medical equipment. Renting or buying is challenging as local pharmacies don't keep them and you have to go to specialised surgical shops. Why would you want to buy a five-function fowler bed permanently? You want it for the time the person is sick," Ganesh says. "Now, we can set up an ICU at home with all monitoring devices as well as provide a nurse. We offer solutions to customers rather than just a part - that's how our business has changed."